Bristol: Timeline – journey to religious freedom, freedom of thought and justice for LGBTQ+ and disabled people


James Nayler, a Quaker leader critical of the Church of England and parliament, staged a demonstration by riding a horse into Bristol in a re-enactment of the Palm Sunday arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem. He was convicted of blasphemy, flogged, maimed and imprisoned.


The Quaker Dorcus Dole published an account of her persecution at the hands of Bristol Civic authorities for opposing the payment of tithes.


French Protestant refugees (known as Huguenots) came to Bristol to flee persecution. The Lord Mayor’s Chapel was lent to the Huguenots for their religious services.


The cleric Josiah Tucker (Bristol Cathedral canon in 1742, St Stephen’s vicar in 1750), was burnt in effigy in Bristol for his support of the naturalisation of Jews.


Edmund Burke, the famous political philosopher, was elected as the MP for Bristol. Credited as the founder of political conservatism, he campaigned for Catholic Emancipation.


John Wesley publishes his Thoughts upon Slavery, based heavily on the work of American abolitionist Anthony Benezet , the father of the trans-Atlantic abolition movement.


Ram Mohan Roy, the Hindu reformer, stayed in Bristol with Unitarians. Roy spoke in favour of religious reform, called for international cooperation and condemned the oppression of women. He died of meningitis and is buried at Arnos Vale.

Black and white photograph of a statue showing a man holding a book.
Statue of Ram Mohan Roy on College Green, Bristol
Photo credit:,_College_Green,_Bristol.JPG


Bristol-born poet, John Addington Symonds, wrote A Problem in Greek Ethics, an early account of homosexuality. Symonds rejected the generally accepted view that homosexuality was an abnormal neurosis.


Disabled campaigner and suffragist Ada Vachell, constructed the Guild Heritage Building in Bragg’s Lane for the disabled.


Bristol Gay Pride was established to raise funds for the Gay News blasphemy trial.

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